Bulgarian president names new caretaker government

  • 12 March 2013
  • From the section Europe
Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev (L) shakes hands with Marin Raikov
Image caption Marin Raikov (R) will lead the new government until May's elections

Bulgaria's President Rosen Plevneliev has announced a caretaker cabinet, following weeks without a government.

The administration will be headed by a diplomat, Marin Raikov, who will organise early elections due in May.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov resigned last month following persistent street protests against high energy bills, poverty and corruption.

The president has had major problems trying to fill the power vacuum, with parties refusing to form a government.

Mr Raikov, who will also be foreign minister, said Bulgaria's currency would continue to shadow the euro and the current budget would stay in place, but there would be help for the poor.

He told reporters: "While we follow strictly the 2013 budget framework, we will take steps to improve the incomes of pensioners and the poorest."

Deputy Central Bank Governor Kalin Hristov was named as the new finance minister.

Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007 but is its poorest member. Bulgarians had hoped EU membership would see prosperity rising,

But a quarter of the country's population still lives below the poverty line, with incomes half that of the European average.

Anger had also grown with the previous government over a perceived failure to tackle cronyism and corruption.

Winter electricity bills have risen sharply - for some they are higher than the monthly wage.

The death of at least two protesters by self-immolation fuelled public anger.

After more than a week of protests, former Prime Minister Borisov tried to calm the protests by promising to slash electricity prices and by sacking his finance minister.

But he quit after protests continued and turned violent.

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